The No. 10 Penn State Nittany Lions (8-2, 6-1 Big Ten) ground their way to a 45-31 victory over the Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, IN. Here are the game’s “Cheers and jeers.”
Forcing turnovers— Penn State’s defensive and special teams units forced four fumbles in the first half alone against the Hoosiers. Three came by way of the defense, while the fourth was on a punt that touched an Indiana player before it was downed. But only the muffed punt led to a score by the Nittany Lions. In the fourth quarter, Penn State forced a fumble, and Torrence Brown ran it into the endzone to seal the deal.
Special teams setting table— Miles Sanders returned the opening kickoff 31 yards to set up Penn State’s offense at the 40-yard line, where it proceeded to march down the field in seven plays to put the Nittany Lions in the endzone early. The special teams unit helped set up the next touchdown (the forced fumble on the Hoosiers’ punt return). After recovering the ball on the Indiana six-yard line, Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley found wide receiver Chris Godwin for a touchdown. A 27-yard kickoff return by Sanders in the third quarter set up a touchdown drive where McSorley found Godwin for six again.
Not taking advantage of turnovers— Those four first half turnovers only led to seven points.
Inability to generate anything on offense— Penn State’s offense marched 60 yards in seven plays on the opening drive of the game for a touchdown. Aside from that, the offense managed 97 yards in the rest of the half, scoring only after recovering an Indiana fumble at the 6-yard line. Throughout the first half, the Nittany Lions forced the ball to running back Saquon Barkley, who managed only 1.4 yards per carry in the first half. The rushing game struggled throughout.
Losing the field position battle— A strong suit during its five-game win streak was that Penn State seemed to have good field position to start each of its possessions. On Saturday afternoon, the Hoosiers dominated field position throughout as a result of the Nittany Lions’ struggle to generate yards. Indiana started only one drive behind their own 20-yard line.
Highlight of the Game
The highlight of the game comes from defensive tackle Kevin Givens.
Kevin Givens with a REJECTION on Indiana's 4th down attempt. Things are going better. pic.twitter.com/Aq7YiBbxre
— Roar Lions Roar (@RLRblog) November 12, 2016
Up four points with under four minutes left in the game, the Nittany Lions were faced with stopping the Hoosiers on fourth down. Kevin Givens would have none of it, blocking Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow’s pass to set Penn State up for a field goal on their ensuing drive. Givens had a productive afternoon, finishing with a sack to go with a number of disrupted plays in Indiana’s backfield.
Penn State heads to New Jersey to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in prime time next Saturday at 8 p.m. EST on BTN. The Scarlet Knights will be coming off a 49-0 loss to the Michigan State Spartans and will enter the game against the Nittany Lions having won only two games in 26 meetings dating back to 1918. The last time Penn State played Rutgers on the road, the Nittany Lions squeaked out a 13-10 victory.
Rutgers comes into the game with a 2-8 overall record while sitting at 0-7 in the Big Ten conference.
Image credit: Darron Cummings/AP Photo